Effect of snap-off distance and squeegee speed on ink transfer mechanism
Screen printing is the most widely used process in the production of printed electronics due to its ability to consistently transfer inks containing a wide range of functional materials onto a range of substrates. However, despite its extensive use, the mechanism by which the ink is transferred through the mesh and onto the substrate is not fully understood.
Existing theories are contradictory and lack experimental validation. Therefore, high-speed imaging was used in combination with a screen-printing simulation rig that was designed to provide good optical access to study ink deposition during the screen-printing process.
The variation in the four stages of ink flow through the screen, described in the theory by Messerschmitt, has been quantified with respect to changes in snap-off distance and squeegee speed. Analyses of the images were compared with measurements of the ink properties and corroborated with analyses of the prints.
Basis for the development of predictive algorithms
This has provided a better understanding of the mechanism by which the ink transfers from the mesh to the substrate and subsequently separates in screen printing. This could be used as the basis for the development of predictive algorithms, as well as to improve the understanding of how to optimise print quality and performance.
The study has been published in Journal of Coatings Technology and Research volume 17 (2020).